When we think of something as picture perfect, we typically envision it as completely flawless, exactly right, ideal. In common usage, “picture perfect” typically refers to the end result or what people see and/or experience – as if one were looking through a camera lens and seeing a flawless composition. Picture perfect results don’t just happen – they are born of mindful planning. And true mastery comes when, during the planning and execution phases, we accept and embrace the idea that perfection is subjective and is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. We all have different “lenses” through which we see and interpret the world around us, and flawless execution demands that we consider these myriad perspectives.
So how can we, as event planners and protocol professionals, consistently create and deliver “picture perfect” experiences? Two words: Lenses and Optics
Optics” refers to how something will be perceived by the outside world. While the concept is most commonly associated with public relations and politics, savvy event and protocol professionals know that this is a crucial, driving consideration in all aspects of their work. In order to fully consider the potential Optics of a given scenario, we must examine those optics through a variety of Lenses. If we consider other peoples’ perceptions (that is, look through their “lenses”) we can start to predict how they might interpret the scenario. A simple but powerful question to ask is, “How will this look to [insert different stakeholders/constituents]?”
Let’s say you’re planning a complex event with many different participating stakeholders: guest of honor and his/her family, dignitaries/VIPs, donors, government officials, corporate executives, community members, members of the press, employees, vendors, etc. Each of these different stakeholders has a unique lens through which they will view the event.
Success comes when you examine the event from ALL angles, anticipating all sensory experiences. If you can imagine yourself as each one of these stakeholders and look at the event through their eyes and expectations, what would you do to ensure that their individual, personal experience is “picture perfect”? What are the Optics of their event when looking through their Lens? For example, you might have planned a stunning dinner with gorgeous centerpieces, but your donors and the press might view the décor as lavish and wonder where, exactly, their donations are going. Your vegetarian guest might feel disappointed that there was nothing they could eat on the menu. Your hearing impaired guest might feel slighted because they could not hear the remarks. Adopting the Lenses and Optics Approach will help avoid these issues.
Some typical questions to ask include:
• What will the event look/sound/feel like to the guests? To the press? To the outside world?
• What does the stage look like? Do you have a diverse roster of participants? Can everyone actually see the stage?
• Do all of the event elements support, reflect, and amplify your message and goal?
• How can you plan your event with photography in mind? Do you have consistent visual identity/branding?
• Are you sending any unintended messages?
• Are there any special considerations or needs to be accommodated?
• Are you delivering a consistently excellent experience to ALL guests?
Perfection is subjective. Truly “picture perfect” events happen when we explore different Lenses, anticipate the Optics, and embrace the concept that beauty is, indeed, in the eye of the beholder.